Why can’t the Orioles ever be involved in good news during the offseason? It seems like a right of passage: each December, O’s fans torch the team for inactivity, and when the club’s name does wander into the headlines, it’s never for the right reason.
Right on cue, the Orioles are the talk of the MLB Winter Meetings. Is it because the Birds are tied to a highly prized outfield free agent, after watching Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis(!) sign elsewhere? Nope. What about getting in on a trade to add a starter… or… I hear they’re interested in a backup catcher? Nope. Not that either.
Instead, San Diego is buzzing because Dan Duquette has been identified as a candidate to replace CEO Paul Beeston. If the reports (tweets) are to be believed, Duquette is interested in the job. Though the position would constitute a promotion, proving Duquette an opportunity to oversee the Blue Jay’s baseball and business operations, Duquette is under contract with the Orioles, and the ownership has already declared that they won’t part with him.
Let’s buck the trend of Orioles fans, and not rush to freak out.
First, it’s good that other clubs are interested in the front office talent that the Orioles have accumulated. The fact that the Blue Jays look at Dan Duquette with envy, after the Orioles committed to him for a six year contract. The team basically hitched its star to Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter, hoping that Duquette could formulate a plan that would bring the team from a laughing stock to perennial contender, and that Showalter could execute that plan. So far, it’s worked. The Orioles have some good people in place, and the rest of the league is taking note. This is a good thing.
Second, the fact that reports (tweets) link Duquette to a job, and that he is reportedly interested does not necessarily mean he’s gone. Neither of these things automatically assure that a complicated negotiation will work out for both parties. Remember, there are other names, including Ken Williams of the White Sox.
Lastly, in 21st-century baseball reporting, doesn’t the rush to provide information sometimes result in poor information? I’m not bashing anyone in the baseball media – not the local beat, nor the national writers… I’m just saying that this may be a frenzy over nothing.
But… let’s not kid ourselves: it is reason for concern.
Things are finally moving in the right direction for the Orioles, and removing one of the primary architects of that success would be a serious blow. Buck Showalter was clearly the face of the franchise before a crop of good players finally took over, and he (rightfully) gets a lot of credit for the organization’s return to prominence.
But Dan Duquette deserves a lot of praise, too. While constantly preaching his small market limitations, he has steadily increased payroll during his tenure, and shown that he has the muscle to pull a big signing when needed. His real value has been in finding under-the-radar players who have key contributors to the Orioles’ on-field success. At Bird’s Eye View, we mocked him for dumpster diving, but he had the last laugh when he pulled names like Miguel Gonzalez, Steve Pearce, Wei-Yin Chen, and so many others.
Losing a general manager – at this stage in the offseason, would leave the Orioles listless at a time when the rest of the AL East is making moves to pick itself off the mat. Buck Showalter had a lot of influence between the MacPhail and Duquette regime, netting the acquisition of Darren O’Day, but fans should be wary of assuming that one man can simply fill both roles, and excel at both. Dan Duquette, if nothing else, has excelled at doing more with less. He’s was recognized as the 2014 Executive of the Year… he’s the real deal.
Here’s hoping that the Blue Jays won’t offer him a better one.